Friday, April 08, 2005

Seven Circles Software List

This open-ended list of software aims to help people decide what software to use in the Seven Circles. It'd be great to hear additional suggestions for inclusion in the list or personal experiences with any of the software. Note, if you search around online you may be able to find better prices than those listed, which are simply manufacturer's suggested price. Also, if any of the links are broken, please let me know! Here's the list:

  • CT-ART 3.0 is what everyone knows about from MDLM's book. I have read criticisms of some of its move choices amongst the Knights (and besides, it is too hard for me), but it is the gold standard. It goes for $26.

  • Chess Tactics for Beginners and Intermediate Players each has over 1000 puzzles arranged into five Stages. Each Stage contains increasingly more challenging themes (e.g., mate in 1) until Stage Five, when there are no themes given: you must just find the best move. Made by the same company as CT-Art, they have the same general setup, but unfortunately they differ from CT-Art in that they do not give you the the option of working through all the problems in order of difficulty with all the themes intermixed. They go for $26 each.

  • Intensive course tactics and Intensive Tactics II each includes over three thousand problems from multiple databases. This review said that the programs are great, and this review is also quite glowing. This review also gives high marks, but is a little more critical. The software is $27. These programs look great, and I am surprised that no Knights have tried to climb these Mount Everests of tactical problems.

  • TASC Chess Tutor (or TCT) is popular amongst the Knights, and lies somewhere between CTB and CT-Art in difficulty level. It includes over 2000 problems broken up into Five Steps, each of which contains lessons on about 15 subjects. Lessons start out very easy, covering subjects like algebraic notation for squares, but quickly become quite challenging (e.g., mating combinations involving multiple tactics). Each lesson presents helpful instructional text that teaches a basic concept. This instructional material is followed up with two to four problem sets (ten problems each) set up to blast the concept into your brain in practical terms. At the end of each Step is a test with about 80 questions in which the questions are not categorized by topic. If you get stuck, it will give you hints or the correct answer. It costs about $30.

  • Personal Chess Trainer is becoming increasingly popular amongst the Knights. No surprise, as it is essentially built to implement the Circles for you: if you get a problem wrong you must repeat it right away, and a problem is not considered 'solved' until you have correctly solved it six times. Each subject is divided in Training Modules, which start at a simple level and then gradually reach more complex ones. The subject Tactics includes 6 modules with 51 units each for a total of 4,320 different exercises. There are 3 endgame modules with 51 units each for a total of over 1400 problems. Finally, there are 3 strategy modules with 51 units each for a total of around 700 problems. The official price is $80, but they often have a half-off sale at the site. I won't be surprised if this becomes the new Gold Standard for the Knights.

  • Chess Mentor allows for four different options that range from absolute beginner level to advanced. Prices range from $15 (beginner package) to $330 (the full package that includes everything). The $75 Comprehensive Chess Course in particular looks like it might be circle-appropriate, as it includes over 1200 problems.

  • 1001 Tactical Exercises, all in PGN format, are available for free download from Chessville. They are taken from Fred Reinfeld's book 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations. You can get the problems organized by theme or all together. The price is right!

  • [Last revised 05/27/06]


    Blogger Unknown said...

    Great! I was wondering what to us myself and your analysis has been helpful. What did you go in for finally. Please do let me know.

    5/03/2005 08:11:00 PM  
    Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

    For my program, the The Divine Tragedy I will first go through TCT once (to get some general chess training), and then use Chess Tactics for Beginners for the circles.

    5/04/2005 03:13:00 PM  
    Blogger Ed Doyle said...

    Very useful review..


    11/24/2005 06:01:00 PM  
    Blogger transformation said...

    this post eric is still alive, for folks read good stuff1

    add lev alburts little ', book'"

    Chess Training Pocket Book.

    Just like you can download the 1001 S&C to pgn, so you can carry this book around, and not so much study it, as slowly absorb it--away from an LRT screen, or PC screen or whatever it is called.

    not all of chess is at a monitor, i have learned to appreciate! you can do it laying down, and put this in your brain before REM sleep...

    7/20/2006 05:54:00 AM  
    Blogger Zweiblumen said...

    Now I remember why I keep procrastinating on buying any of the convekta stuff: I go there and realize that it's not a software download once I buy and lose interest. Lame, I know, but...

    I guess it is really time to get CTB and get serious. I've been playing chess on and off for a few years, but don't really know how to best spend my time, so I don't really improve. As I go through periods of increased play I tend to eliminate some mistakes, but no serious change occurs.

    8/20/2006 04:13:00 PM  
    Blogger Unknown said...

    I have found ct-art very useful. I have solved all the tactics from levels 10, 20, 30 (or was it 1, 2, 3? ) and I didn't notice any errors in analysis. I mention this because errors in analysis in tactics problems really bothers me. Ct-art also has a chess engine built in so if you think there's a wrong move you can play it against crafty and see why you might be wrong.

    I found it interesting that you didn't mention probably one of the most useful tactics programs at all, although it's not a downloadable program: That is a very awesome site with over 15,000 tactics I believe. I suppose it doesnt fall undeer the category of a 'program'. :)

    12/02/2006 10:33:00 AM  
    Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

    I need to consider adding CTS, and will think about it (technically it it isn't necessarily great for doing the circles, as to repeat the same problem 7 times you probably have to do like eight billion problems).

    I can't wait to do CT-Art. I am still doing Chess Tactics for Beginners, which is a great program for those of us struggling around 1200.

    12/02/2006 10:46:00 AM  
    Blogger bulldoggy said...

    I'd be interested in a review of the Adaptive Tactics Server, at Instead of asking it to serve more frequently problem types you are weakest at, you can set so that you can "solve the cycle" i. e., go through the problems one at a time. It has nearly 1200 problems right now.

    3/02/2009 10:10:00 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This isn't software per-se, but here's a link for a page that will quiz you on random squares to help memorize their colors for example so that can confirm you know whether g5 is a light or dark square.

    Kinda neat.

    6/28/2009 07:44:00 PM  
    Blogger Unknown said...

    What about the Kebuchess program? Looks better than CT Art but does it do the job?

    Did anyone try the new CT Art 4.0 yet? What exactly is the improvement over the previous version?

    3/04/2010 11:41:00 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The first version of CT-Art 4 on DVD has many bugs. I have written to them about it and they will be fixed. Wait a few months before buying it. The on-line version has some bugs too, which they will fix soon. The graphics are much better on CT-Art 4, so it will be worth the wait. (Note that the exercises are still CT-Art 3, plus the option to buy other products by Convekta)

    4/03/2010 10:25:00 AM  
    Anonymous stringer said...

    Can anyone recommend a good software program to complete the seven circles on an iPad2?

    5/19/2011 02:48:00 PM  

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